A “serial cat killer” thought to be responsible for gruesome pet slayings lured his targets with raw chicken, according to the examining vet.
Deaths of up to 10 cats found decapitated in Croydon and nearby are being investigated by the Met Police.
The vet, who wished to remain anonymous, told BBC News he had ruled out slaughter by another animal.
However, the RSPCA said it was keeping an open mind as to the cause pending further test results due in mid-March.
The vet said he believed a “sharp-bladed instrument” had been used.
It has been suggested the deaths may be the work of the same person – dubbed the Croydon Cat Killer or Cat Ripper by some.
Of the 16 corpses he examined, the vet said, he had been able to link 10 of the deaths, with the most recent examination undertaken on Thursday.
Incisions had been made with a weapon “like a knife, but not a scalpel because the incisions are too long for that”, he said.
In the past two cases, he revealed, raw chicken was found in the cats’ stomachs, suggesting the animals had probably been lured by the killer with the offer of the meat.
“I think they are being strangled and then taken off-site to be butchered, and then the bodies are being returned and dumped, that is why there is no blood found at the scene,” he said.
As the killings progressed, he said, the decapitations had vastly improved in surgical competency.
“My fear initially was the cats were being hacked to death because the cuts were really random but the incisions have become much more precise, which suggests they are being killed first.”
Attempt to return bodies
The killer is thought to have worn gloves and protective clothing when catching the cats because DNA analysis has found no evidence of foreign material beneath their claws.
More than 40 cases of beheadings have been reported to South Norwood Animal Rescue and Liberty centre to date, with the majority dating back to the past three years.
Boudicca Rising, from the centre, said she believed the killings were the work of one “sick individual” and bodies “are being displayed where people will find them”.
There was an attempt to return the bodies or body parts to where the killer suspected the cats lived, she said.
Ten suspicious cat deaths have been linked, in the areas marked below, since September 2015:
Dr Naomi Murphy, who works within the dangerous and severe personality disorders unit at HM Prison Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire, said this extreme form of cruelty to animals strongly suggested the work of a sadist, someone who enjoyed harming other creatures.
“Because these killings involve weapons it seems like the type of person who plans and gets pleasure from thinking about the pain they are going to inflict.
“What happens when people are sadistic, like any kind of addiction, they often have to go further and further to satisfy their addiction,” she said.
On Friday the Met Police said the number of incidents linked to the investigation at this stage was in single figures. A force spokesman said officers were also aware of a similar allegation in Surrey.
The RSPCA said it was conducting tests on the cat bodies and the results could take a few weeks to come back.
It called on people to contact them if a cat was found dead in “suspicious circumstances”.
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 or call the Crimestoppers charity anonymously.
Quick facts about the Croydon cat killings:
- To date the deaths of 10 cats have been officially linked – four in Croydon and one each in Streatham, Mitcham Common, Sutton, Charlton, Peckham and Finchley
- The killings investigated so far date back to September 2015
- Cats are being caught and decapitated in most cases. In some cases their tails are being chopped off too
- It is possible one person is responsible for the killings
- Cats are probably being lured by the killer using raw chicken